Humanities Indicators
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K-12 Education
 
Primary and Secondary Education

Introduction

The humanities subjects have experienced repeated efforts at reform since 1980, when the Rockefeller Commission on the Humanities declared K–12 education the highest priority in the humanities and called upon scholars and policymakers to turn their attention to the schools. From "A Nation at Risk" to the Common Core, each of these reforms sought to improve competencies in core subjects of the humanities, particularly reading and writing.[1]

Current research on the quality of education tends to focus on the character of and relationships among three elements—student achievement, curriculum and instruction, and teacher preparation—and the indicators here reflect that focus. Drawing on national and international studies, this area of the indicators focuses on measures of achievement in reading, writing, history, and civics; information on course-taking at the high school level; and the characteristics of teachers of humanities subjects in the schools. Since the high school curriculum usually includes requirements for the study of English, history, and foreign languages, information on teachers and students in these areas tends to be fairly accessible. Regrettably, in other, less frequently studied fields (such as philosophy or art history), data are rarely available.

The indicators in this area offer answers to several key questions regarding the state of humanities study in the American school system, including:

  • After more than 30 years of reforms, are there signs of improved proficiency in humanities subjects?
  • How do students in the U.S. compare to students in other countries?
  • How many classes do students take in humanities subject fields, and what sort of qualifications do teachers bring to those classes
 

Indicators

National Measures of Achievement

Trends in Basic Reading Skills among School-Age Children
Reading Performance of 9-Year-Olds
indI-1a.xlsindI-1a.pptindI-1a.pdf
Reading Performance of 13-Year-Olds
indI-1b.xlsindI-1b.pptindI-1b.pdf
Reading Performance of 17-Year-Olds
indI-1c.xlsindI-1c.pptindI-1c.pdf
Reading Proficiency as Compared with that in Science and Math
Percentages of Fourth Graders Scoring at Reading Achievement Levels Compared with Those for Math and Science
indI-1d.xlsindI-1d.pptindI-1d.pdf
Percentages of Eighth Graders Scoring at Reading Achievement Levels Compared with Those for Math and Science
indI-1e.xlsindI-1e.pptindI-1e.pdf
Percentages of 12th Graders Scoring at Reading Achievement Levels Compared with Those for Math and Science
indI-1f.xlsindI-1f.pptindI-1f.pdf
Share of Fourth and Eighth Graders Demonstrating Reading Proficiency, by State
Reading Competency: An International Perspective
Average Scores on International Reading Assessment
SuppI-1g.xls
International Reading Literacy of 15-Year-Olds
SuppI-1h.xlsindI-1h.pptindI-1h.pdf
Two Measures of the Literacy Performance Gap between the United States and Other International Jurisdictions
SuppI-1i.xlsindI-1i.pptindI-1i.pdf
Average Scores on International Reading Literacy Subscales
SuppI-1j.xlsindI-1j.pptindI-1j.pdf
Writing Proficiency
Writing Achievement: Trend Data
indI-2a.xlsindI-2a.pptindI-2a.pdf
Writing Achievement: Current Levels
indI-2b.xlsindI-2b.pptindI-2b.pdf
Knowledge of U.S. History
History Achievement of Eighth Graders
I-3a.xlsindI-3a.pptindI-3a.pdf
History Achievement of Fourth and 12th Graders
I-3b.xlsindI-3b.pptindI-3b.pdf
Knowledge of Civics
Civics Achievement of Eighth Graders
indI-4a.xlsindI-4a.pptindI-4a.pdf
Civics Achievement of Fourth and 12th Graders
indI-4aa.xlsindI-4aa.pptindI-4aa.pdf
Levels of Civics Knowledge among 14-Year-Olds (Int'l Comparison)
indI-4b_final.xls
SAT Verbal/Critical Reading and Writing Exams
Mean SAT Verbal/Critical Reading Score of College-Bound Seniors Compared with Mean Math and Writing Scores
table_indI-5a.xlsindI-5a.pptindI-5a.pdf
Mean SAT Verbal/Critical Reading Score and Mean SAT Writing Score of College-Bound Seniors, by Gender
table_indI-5b.xlsindI-5b.pptindI-5b.pdf
Mean SAT Verbal/Critical Reading Score of College-Bound Seniors, by Race/Ethnicity
table_indI-5c.xlsindI-5c.pptindI-5c.pdf
Mean SAT Writing Score of College-Bound Seniors, by Race/Ethnicity
table_indI-5d.xlsindI-5d.pptindI-5d.pdf

High School Course-Taking

Credits Earned by Graduating High School Seniors
High School Course Credits Earned in Broad Subject Areas
indI-6a.xlsindI-6a.pptindI-6a.pdf
High School Graduates Who Took Social Studies Courses
indI-6b.xlsindI-6b.pptindI-6b.pdf
Language Instruction in Elementary and Secondary Schools
Share of Elementary Schools Teaching Languages Other than English, by Control of School
I-7a.xlsxindI-7a.pptindI-7a.pdf
Share of Secondary Schools Teaching Languages Other than English, by School Level
I-7b.xlsxindI-7b.pptindI-7b.pdf
Public K–12 Enrollment in Languages Other than English, by State
Share of High School Graduates Who Received Any Credit for a Course in a Language Other than English
I-7d.xlsxindI-7d.pptindI-7d.pdf
Distribution of High School Graduate LOTE Credit-Earning among Languages
I-7e.xlsxindI-7e.pptindI-7e.pdf
Share of High School Graduates Who Completed Advanced Coursework in a Language Other than English
I-7f.xlsxindI-7f.pptindI-7f.pdf
Advanced Placement Exams Taken in the Humanities
Advanced Placement Exams Taken in Broad Academic Fields
Advanced Placement Exams Taken in Humanities Subjects
Student Performance on AP Examinations

Primary- and Secondary-School Faculty

Qualifications of Public Middle School Teachers
Percentage of Middle School Teachers with Credentials in the Subject of Their Main Teaching Assignment
indI-13a.xlsindI-13a.pptindI-13a.pdf
Percentage of Public Middle School Students in Classes Taught by an Instructor with Certification and a Postsecondary Degree in Subject
indI-13b.xlsindI-13b.pptindI-13b.pdf
Percentage of Public Middle School Students in Classes Taught by an Instructor with a Degree in That Subject, for Selected Subjects
indI-13c.xlsindI-13c.pptindI-13c.pdf
Qualifications of Humanities Teachers in U.S. Public High Schools
Percentage of Public High School Teachers with Qualifications in Their Main Teaching Assignment, by Subject
IndI-9a.xlsindI-9a.pptindI-9a.pdf
Percentage of Public High School Students in Classes Taught by Instructor with Qualifications in Subject, by Subject
indI-9b.xlsindI-9b.pptindI-9b.pdf
Public High School Students Taught by a Teacher with a Pertinent Degree
indI-9c.xlsindI-9c.pptindI-9c.pdf
Demographic Characteristics of Humanities Teachers
Age Distribution of Primary and Secondary School Teachers
indI-10a.xlsindI-10a.pptindI-10a.pdf
Gender Composition of Primary and Secondary School Teacher Population
indI-10b.xlsindI-10b.pptindI-10b.pdf
Racial Composition of Teacher Population Compared with Student Population
indI-10c.xlsindI-10c.pptindI-10c.pdf
Proportion of Teachers of Hispanic Ethnicity Compared with Student Population
indI-10d.xlsindI-10d.pptindI-10d.pdf
Humanities Teachers' Earnings
Teacher Earnings by Years of Teaching Service
indI-11a.xlsindI-11a.pptindI-11a.pdf
Job Satisfaction
Share of Teachers Who Would Teach Again
indI-12.xlsindI-12.pptindI-12.pdf

Endnotes

[1] National Commission on Excellence in Education, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1983); available online at http://www.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk/index.html.